Neuquen broke through a wall Oct. 11, when the Argentine province priced the first cross-border bond backed by onshore assets from the country in the aftermath of the 2002 crisis. But, judging from the stripe of investors that bought in, and the barriers to other provinces, the placement doesn't seem to herald foreseeable change from the status quo. That is, Argentine originators will keep massing into a vibrant domestic market and eschewing a shriveled cross-border one.
Led by Citigroup, the $125 million, eight-year transaction priced at 8.656%, the lowest yield achieved by an Argentine province, according to a press release by Neuquen. Standard & Poor's graded the deal BB-', a no-no for investment-grade investors but a nice fit for the ilk of buyers that has purchased the high yield Argentine corporate paper that Citigroup has peddled over the last two years. "It was basically the same group of investors," that had bought into deals for issuers like Cerveceria y Malteria Quilmes, Pan American Energy, and Banco Hipotecario, according to a source close to the deal.